Monday's Muse, 44th edition.

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Reminiscence by Michiru Oshima [Fullmetal Alchemist soundtrack].

The idea of Monday's Muse is to introduce you to unknown, forgotten, or overlooked fiction that has been lost from regular radar. I am WriterGirl. I am in the business of saving lives, one book at a time.

What I do is go to amazon, narrow it down to a YA field and type in a random word, any word that comes to mind. I then take a sampling of some I have never heard of before, or only vaguely heard of (and hopefully you as well). No infringement is intended for any description I take for the books. It's purely for promotional reasons. I will try and cover as many genres as possible that are fitting for the random word. Simple but it really uncovers some incredible gems. I will be doing this every other Monday. If there are any words you want to prompt me with, go ahead and fire away.

Today's random word:

The Eleventh Plague by Jeff Hirsch.

In an America devastated by war and plague, the only way to survive is to keep moving.

In the aftermath of a war, America’s landscape has been ravaged and two-thirds of the population left dead from a vicious strain of influenza. Fifteen-year-old Stephen Quinn and his family were among the few that survived and became salvagers, roaming the country in search of material to trade. But when Stephen’s grandfather dies and his father falls into a coma after an accident, Stephen finds his way to Settler’s Landing, a community that seems too good to be true. Then Stephen meets strong, defiant, mischievous Jenny, who refuses to accept things as they are. And when they play a prank that goes horribly wrong, chaos erupts, and they find themselves in the midst of a battle that will change Settler’s Landing--and their lives--forever.

The Eleventh Hour: A Curious Mystery by Graeme Base.

This picture book is a puzzle mystery written in verse. When Horace the elephant turns 11, he decides to throw an elaborate birthday party and invites 11 friends. The animal guests arrive in costume, and entertain themselves with a variety of activities until it is time to eat. When the 11th hour arrives, however, they are horrified to find that the entire feast has been eaten. All guests protest their innocence, and Horace comes through with sandwiches to save the day. What remains is for readers to discover the culprit. "The Inside Story," a sealed section of pages containing the solution to the mystery and explanations of the plethora of clues and puzzles in the book, follows the story. Intricate watercolor and acrylic paintings in vibrant colors crowd each page, assaulting readers with activity and detail. Both text and paintings are framed by black-and-white decorative borders that provide still more detail. After either breaking a code through careful observation (very, very careful, one must assume) or checking "The Inside Story," readers will uncover the identity of the villains. They are hidden everywhere: in the borders and in the body of the illustrations, but only very patient, persistent children will be motivated to detect every one of them. --Corinne Camarata, Port Washington Public Library, NY, School Library Journal.

[WriterGirl's Note: This is a completely awesome book. I stayed up all night figuring this out. The second I realized one of the borders of the pictures was in Morse code, I was hooked. I had to find every clue. And the pictures are gorgeous. They are something to be lost in. WriterGirl out.]

Discordia: The Eleventh Dimension by Dena K. Salmon.

For Lance (level 19 zombie sorcerer), and his friend, MrsKeller ( level 23 hobgoblin brigand), life’s a battle, and then you die. And then you rez. And then you battle again. At least that’s how it is in Discordia, the addictive online game that makes real life seem dreary in comparison.

At his new school, Lance feels weird and out of place, but in beautiful and complex Discordia, his zombie sorcerer is doing great: leveling fast, learning new skills, and making friends. He’s even met a level 60 toon, TheGreatOne, who has recruited him and MrsKeller into his guild: Awoken Myths.

Lance wishes he could spend all his time in the game – until TheGreatOne transports Lance and MrsKeller to the real Discordia, the perilous world in the eleventh dimension which inspired the game. Before they’re allowed to leave, they must complete a high-level quest that may determine Discordia’s survival – and Lance’s, too.

If they don’t get out soon, Lance could permanently mutate into the character he plays in the game: a zombie. The friends accept TheGreatOne’s quest and meet Rayva, a runaway who may have been lured into Discordia against her will. The three make their way through a country on the brink of war, fighting monsters, traitors and spies – yet their greatest danger may be Lance himself.